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DEEP Commissioner Wants More Regulatory Authority Added into ‘Green Monster’ Bill

Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Katie Dykes is calling on the General Assembly to grant her more regulatory authority in the “Green Monster” omnibus bill.  

In her written testimony, Dykes referred to a section of the bill that gives legal powers to individuals for them to sue the government and businesses for failure to achieve statutorily mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction benchmarks. 

Currently, these targets are 45% below 2001 levels by 2030, with a further goal of an 80% reduction by 2050. However, the bill also introduces more stringent targets, proposing a reduction to 65% below 2001 levels by 2040 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Emphasizing that if the General Assembly advances this bill and wants to make these targets enforceable, Dykes wrote that “the legislature must provide for funding, regulatory authority and other programmatic support.” With this support, she added “the State can achieve these targets without necessitating judicial enforcement.” 

This isn’t the first time the commissioner has requested more control from the General Assembly.  

During the 2023 legislative session, she was in support of a bill that would have given her department new broad powers to adopt regulations and implement policies and strategies without legislative oversight. If passed, she could have entered into agreements with states and Canadian provinces similar to the failed TCI gas tax proposed in 2021.   

Eventually, the bill died in the Appropriations Committee, but it would have also allowed her to develop “market-based compliance mechanisms” — a euphemism for a gas tax, cap-and-trade or cap-and-invest. It would have also given her authority to set new, stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions across a broad range of economic sectors, including home heating and cooling.   

Speaking at a press conference last July announcing the proposed legislation to ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035, Dykes announced that she needs more “regulatory authority” to “reduce emissions and provide cleaner options for consumers.” 

In a press conference on Friday (March 8), Rep. Christine Palm (D-Chester), who is the bill’s main sponsor, addressed what she considered misconceptions surrounding the “Green Monster” omnibus bill, clarifying that “specifically, EVs were not included in this bill” and refuting claims by Yankee Institute about a cap-and-trade provision being part of the legislation.  

Palm’s statements are accurate: the bill as currently written does not explicitly mention electric vehicles (EVs) or a cap-and-trade system. However, with a deeper examination of the bill and coupled with the commissioner’s call for more power, it becomes clear that proposed legislation has indeed set the stage for adopting a Cap-and-Trade-like tax and the introduction of EV mandates. 

Embedded within the legislation is a provision that requires the DEEP Commissioner to hire a consultant to draft a report on achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions. 

The report, due no later than Jan. 1, 2026, also requires the consultant to prioritize what order sector-specific targets should be implemented. The report has no enforcement mechanisms, and any policy changes will require approval from both the House and Senate. 

Sector-specific emission reduction targets refer to goals set for reducing GHG emissions within specific sectors of the economy, such as transportation, and commercial and residential construction. These targets are designed to reduce emissions within each sector. 

However, should the “Green Monster” bill be enacted, the completion of the mandated report could unleash a wave of new legislation. These could include proposals that have been unsuccessful in Connecticut and measures adopted by other states, potentially having widespread negative effects on the state’s economy. 

In an effort to curb GHG emissions within the transportation sector, the report may find that it should adopt measures similar to those in California, which implemented a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and a cap-and-trade gas tax that adds 30 cents per gallon according to November 2023 data.  

Environmentalists have tried for years for such reforms in Connecticut, and it is anticipated that these proposals will gain renewed momentum following the report’s release. 

Recent efforts to align with California’s strict vehicle emission standards by banning gas cars have faced resistance from residents in the state. Gov. Ned Lamont, anticipating significant opposition, preemptively withdrew the proposed regulation in November from the agenda of the Regulation Review Committee, thus stalling its progress. 

Moreover, in 2020, Connecticut sought to establish its own cap-and-trade system for gasoline through Gov. Lamont’s endorsement of the multi-state TCI compact. This initiative aimed to set emission limits for gasoline producers and distributors, forcing them to buy carbon allowances. Estimates at the time suggested this could increase gasoline costs by 17 cents per gallon, ultimately costing Connecticut drivers an additional billion dollars over a decade. Despite these efforts, the proposal faced challenges in gaining the necessary support for its implementation. 

The report may also recommend mandatory decarbonization efforts within the construction sector, including requirements for the electrification of all new constructions and extensive remodels. Before the “Green Monster’s” public release, a summary from Rep. Palm suggested these provisions were included in the legislation. Yet, after the bill was made public, these requirements would apply solely to state-owned facilities. 

The public hearing on the “Green Monster” bill — as of the time of this writing — is underway in the Environment Committee. One development of interest so far involves Commissioner Dykes.  

Despite her detailed written requests regarding the “Green Monster,” her public testimony consisted merely of expressing support for the bill, without providing specifics on the nature of her support, including her proposed power grab.  

Following the hearing’s conclusion, the “Green Monster” bill will proceed to a committee vote, where its language will be finalized potentially incorporating Commissioner Dykes “suggestions.” If approved, the bill will then advance to the House and Senate for further consideration.  

The prospect of enhancing Commissioner Dykes’ regulatory authority raises concerns. Allowing unelected bureaucrats to wield that level of power without strict legislative oversight is unfair to the people of the state.  

Bureaucrats are not directly accountable to the public leading to a government model where decision-making becomes unchecked. This can result in the implementation of policies that may not align with the interests of the people they affect. Without proper oversight, there is a risk that these powers could be exercised to serve personal interests or push specific agendas, all the while evading responsibility for the outcomes of their actions. 

This Week on Yankee’s Podcast Y CT Matters 

After his election to the 30th Senate District in 2023, Stephen Harding was named the Senate Minority Leader in February. He joins the show to share insights into key issues, such as housing, fiscal responsibility and electric vehicle mandates, as well as collaborating with different caucuses.

Click HERE to Listen 

Will I See You at Yankee’s Capitol Insiders Breakfast? 

One month into the legislative session, YI is making headway on many crucial pieces of legislation!

Don’t just take our word for it — come join us at this year’s “Capitol Insiders’ Breakfast” and get the inside scoop on what’s happening in both chambers in Hartford! 

Our panelists will be discussing the legislation that can offer increased opportunity and prosperity for our state, as well as what we need to do to keep state unions, big government special interests and Hartford’s elite on the run.

We look forward to you joining us and our panel: 

  • Andy Markowski – Principal, Statehouse Partners, LLC 
  • Bryce Chinault – Director, External Affairs, Yankee Institute 
  • David Flemming – Director of Policy, Yankee Institute 

This is also a great chance to catch up with fellow YI friends! 



Meghan Portfolio

Meghan worked in the private sector for two decades in various roles in management, sales, and project management. She was an intern on a presidential campaign and field organizer in a governor’s race. Meghan, a Connecticut native, joined Yankee Institute in 2019 as the Development Manager. After two years with Yankee, she has moved into the policy space as Yankee’s Manager of Research and Analysis. When she isn’t keeping up with local and current news, she enjoys running–having completed seven marathons–and reading her way through Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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